Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Wednesday Mashup (3/16/11)

  • Looks like some of our lower life forms have a new fake controversy to blame Obama for this week, as noted here, and that would be the invasion of Bahrain by the Saudis (there are actual legitimate ones such as the continued illegal detention of Pfc. Bradley Manning, but Heaven knows the wingnutosphere checked out of the real world some time ago)…

    As Saudi troops swept into Bahrain on Monday, President Obama kept playing his favorite new role: the Invisible Man.

    Bahrain is a key US ally and headquarters to the Navy's Fifth Fleet, which patrols the Persian Gulf and Indian Ocean from the Horn of Africa to Bangladesh.
    In response, I give you the following (here)…

    The massive protests on the tiny island of Bahrain have been met with violence before, but the level of violence is about to be taken to a whole new level amid reports that Saudi Arabian troops are going to invade the country as soon as Monday, at the invitation of the Bahraini Crown Prince.

    The protests in Bahrain have broken down largely along sectarian lines, with the nation’s Shi’ite majority complaining of discrimination by the nation’s Sunni royal family, and indeed has sparked similar (albeit small) protests among the Shi’ites along neighboring Saudi Arabia’s northeast coast.

    The Bahraini protesters initially wanted reforms, but after violent crackdowns, they began demanding the ouster of the royal family entirely and its replacement with a democracy. The Crown Prince, Salman bin Hamad al-Khalifa, insisted today that the regime could no long accept the protests continuing.
    Of course, partly because of conservative caterwauling, Iran ended up blaming us anyway, for what it’s worth (here).

  • Next, I have a feeling the “teahadists” aren’t going to be very happy with our PA-08 U.S. House Rep Mikey the Beloved, considering that he voted for the latest U.S. House stopgap measure, as noted from here.

    Of course, ever true to form, Majority Leader Eric Cantor blamed the Democrats, even though, without our support, this stupid band-aid of a spending bill would never have passed (inasmuch as I can actually trust former Majority Leader Steny Hoyer on anything, I hope that he’s not just playing us by saying that he won’t support another “stop gap” bill).

    Also, this Guest Opinion appeared in the Bucks County Courier Times today about another bad Fitzpatrick vote to defund Planned Parenthood (the author, Maggie Leigh Groff, is director of Public Affairs for the Planned Parenthood Association of Bucks contact Planned Parenthood, click here - I'd like to post it all here since I'm sure this link will eventually expire, but I have to be careful about that sort of thing).

  • In addition, former Fed chairman Alan Greenspan blamed “the stim” for our “lagging economic recovery” (here)…

    "What we need to do now is to calm down; let things move by themselves," he said at a forum at the Council of Foreign Relations. "And indeed the rate of activism has decreased significantly and the ratio of capital flow has inched back up."

    Some economists blame Greenspan, who served as Fed chair from 1987 to 2006, for keeping interest rates too low for too long and for failing to sound the alarm that Wall Street was over-leveraged and running wild.

    But with Republicans in control of the House, Greenspan's views are starting to gain an audience again. Many Republicans share his opinion that intervention has created uncertainty and deterred private sector investing.
    Oh Heavens, there’s that dreaded “U” word again, even though, as noted here, U.S. businesses earned their highest profits in 60 years in the third quarter last year (of course, unemployment is another matter – curious to see the latest numbers when they’re due out tomorrow I think with the Repugs waging economic war on public employment).

    This is all of course ridiculous from Greenspan, who did indeed fail to do his due diligence as noted above, once claiming here that the burst of the subprime mortgage bubble was due to the collapse of the Berlin Wall in 1989, saying that, as a result “central planning, in one form or another, was discredited and widely displaced by competitive markets.”

    Uh, no.

    Also, Paul Krugman pointed out that, in 2004, “the wizard” told us we needn’t worry about a national housing bubble, and Greenspan followed that up by saying in 2005 that “complex financial instruments” have created a “resilient” financial system.

    I’d like to see Greenspan try to make his argument about government involvement in the economy to GM, by the way; as noted here, that basically saved an entire industry in this country. And anyone who was tricked into buying an adjustable rate mortgage should curse Greenspan’s name, he being a guy who once pimped these sleazy products, knowing full well that, as a high priest of the “pay no price, bear no burden” crowd, he would never have to face the proverbial music over it.

  • Finally, this Miami Herald story tells us the following (first read this today in the New York Times)…

    Voters swept Miami-Dade Mayor Carlos Alvarez out of office by a stunning margin Tuesday, capping a dramatic collapse for a politician who was given increased authority by voters four years ago to clean up much-maligned county government but was ushered out in the largest recall of a local politician in U.S. history.

    The spectacular fall from power comes after two years of missteps, ranging from granting top staffers big pay hikes to construction of a publicly funded stadium for the Florida Marlins to implementation of a property-tax rate increase that outraged an electorate struggling through an ugly recession.

    Alvarez tried to fend off ouster by twice filing suit to block a recall vote. After the lawsuits went nowhere, he defended his record in speeches, radio and television appearances and paid advertisements, arguing that he made the tough calls to preserve vital services for residents.

    But voters responded by handing the mayor a humiliating defeat: Nearly nine of every 10 voted to remove Alvarez from office.

    “The voters have spoken and a time of healing and reconciliation must now begin,’’ Alvarez said in a statement Tuesday night. “No matter which side of the recall issue, one thing is certain: We all care very deeply about this community… I wish the next mayor of Miami-Dade County much success.”
    And you’ll never guess who led the recall to boot Alvarez – a guy named Norman Braman.

    As anyone with even a passing familiarity with Philadelphia sports knows, Braman is the former owner of the Philadelphia Eagles, one of the true legendary tightwads in a city that has seen a bunch of them over the years.

    Now I’ll grant you that Alvarez, if nothing else, was certainly tone-deaf to his constituents in a number of ways including those cited above; the Herald story also tells us the following…

    In May, Alvarez came under fire for shopping for a new BMW 550i Grand Turismo sedan subsidized by an $800-a-month car allowance. He got the new car even as he already had two Chevy Suburbans to ferry him around on official business. Alvarez — earning a $233,123 salary and $92,187 in benefits — refused to get rid of the car allowance, saying he wasn’t “going to do something that is symbolic.”
    Turn over hand on desk to show open palm and smack yourself in the forehead with it, Former Mr. Mayor.

    However, I refuse to cast Braman in the role of a hero; as Wikipedia tells us, he once fought a one-cent sales tax increase to benefit mass transit (God, what is it with that issue in that state between Braman and Lex Luthor? Just think of it as the Disney monorail only with graffiti and sliced-up seat cushions, if that helps). And as noted here…

    Starting Oct. 17 I worked in one of the petition offices (to recall Alvarez) and I never saw Norman Braman in my office at 2020 NE 163rd Street in North Miami. This was arguably the main office out of three because it was the one that housed the petition circulation organizers. In a small space without a window and almost without air conditioning, two other people and I “proofed” these petitions. Like a sweatshop in Chinatown, we worked for Braman seven days a week and at least 12 hours per day. In America we say, “If you aren’t cheatin’, then you aren’t tryin’.” Norman Braman is trying the hardest of them all.
    And as noted here from Esquire (click on Braman's pic, which is the third in the middle of the right side of the page)…

    In the nascent days of free agency, the penny-pinching Braman underbid for fan favorites Reggie White, Clyde Simmons, and Keith Jackson — all of whom left for greener pastures (Veterans Stadium left little to be desired). He feuded with White, the pious Pro Bowler who rallied against the owners in the 1987 players' strike and was publicly disappointed with Braman's firing of coach Buddy Ryan in 1990. "Reggie may be devout," Braman said, "but his first love is the almighty dollar."
    Takes one to know one, doesn’t it, Norm?
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